Marketing Memos: Quality Content, Diversity, and PowerPoint

Marketing Memos” is a weekly(ish) an occasional selection of 3-5 of the most interesting and insightful articles and podcast episodes—curated after I’ve had a chance to process them and identify the best. Follow Free Verse Media on LinkedIn or Twitter to receive notifications for each week’s post.


Podcasts May Have Replaced Video, but a Solid Content Strategy Is Still King
By Michael Grimes, AdWeek

“Now is probably a good time to point out that text-based newsletters are having a moment of their own to rival that of podcasts. Indeed, once considered a yawn-inducing lead-gen tactic in b-to-b marketing, newsletters have become a preferred means for consumers to mainline relevant information directly into their inboxes on a weekly and even daily basis. And the very format speaks to the first point about the right level of interaction, as newsletters allow readers to skim pithy bullets until they find something of interest and click through for a deeper experience.”

The worst part of an ill-conceived hard pivot to video/audio is neither one requires running away from text. Transcripts are a no-brainer for accessibility and discovery, while a good editor can easily produce 2-3 distinct articles from each one—assuming, as always, that we’re talking about quality content across the board. There’s a reason so many “social video” producers are dangerously dependent on Facebook and Instagram, and why there’s been a surge in TikTok think pieces. Firing editors & writers to staff video/audio operations not only limits your potential reach, it puts your fate in external platforms’ hands. Diversified formats and distribution are absolutely critical for audience development, but prioritizing begging for Apple ratings and YouTube likes rather than a robust owned & operated platform is bad strategy. If that lesson hasn’t been learned yet, fire your CEO and all of his yes men.

What It Will Take to Improve Diversity at Conferences
By Ruchika Tulshyan, Harvard Business Review

“Some of the biggest inequities are created when speakers are expected to speak for free exposure, learn to refine their skills on their own dime, and keep doing that until they hit big-time conferences where they can finally begin to charge hefty speaker fees. Speaking for free isn’t a realistic option for many people, especially people of color who are most disadvantaged by a large racial wealth gap. At the very least, offer to compensate for travel and lodging, and especially, ensure that not only some speakers get compensated while others don’t.”

Programming a great conference that attracts a diverse audience is hard work but it’s absolutely critical if the event is expected to be profitable and grow every year. One of the biggest obstacles remains speaker rosters disproportionately dominated by white men—or in some industries like book publishing, white women. Most events claim some version of a “commitment to diversity,” typically demonstrated by a token keynote speaker or, even worse, a Diversity Panel, and then wonder why their audiences are stagnant or lack diversity. Expand your network, actively seek out new voices, dig deeper for topics, and Pay! Your! Speakers! If you can’t afford to pay your speakers or even cover their expenses to attend your event, rethink your business model; having a bad reputation among desirable speakers is the worst kind of word of mouth marketing—and you often won’t even know it’s having an impact until your year-over-year registration revenue starts to irreparably decline.

5 tips that will make you love PowerPoint—no, seriously
By Doug Aamoth, Fast Company

“And while there’s no shortage of articles telling you how to improve your presentations, this article here is for those of you who want to work smarter, not harder, inside the belly of the beast.”

Most marketers have a love/hate relationship with PowerPoint, and if you’re like me, also want nothing to do with Keynote, Prezi, or other pretenders to the throne. Some of these tips may not be new to you, but they’re all extremely useful if creating and giving presentations is a notable part of your job.


The Athletic co-founder Adam Hansmann: ‘We believe there is a $1b company to build here’
DigiDay Podcast

“We see 90% engagement weekly during busy sports times. We see 80% of our subscribers renew. Getting to that point, we feel good about the platform’s permanence. Long term, valuations concerns in the short term aside, we believe there is a $1 billion company to build here, which might sound crazy. But if you look at The New York Times, with their 4 million digital subscribers, they’re a $1 billion publicly-traded company.”

I like what The Athletic is trying to do, in theory, but $100m in VC funding with ~600,000 paying subscribers—the vast majority of whom are surely not paying anywhere near the regularly discounted $59.99/year rate—and no realistic indication of being profitable anytime soon doesn’t come close to being in the same conversation as the New York Times. Meanwhile, most of their journalists come from traditional media organizations that weren’t profitable enough to keep them. $100m in VC funding for any digital media play that wants to grow via Quality Content (TM) is either angling for acquisition or making promises it’ll be forced to break in the near future, along with massive layoffs. Plus, journalists getting paid in stock options is a red flag we’ve seen end badly time and time again. Layer in “engagement metrics” and conversion optimization for paid subs and you’ve got yet another digital house of cards waiting to fall.

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